A leader leads by example, not by force, and must earn the will of his or her team. After all, a person’s will cannot be mandated. If you have your people’s will, they will support you through your toughest challenges. Your employees should believe that you place your priorities on the organization first. In many ways, this is servant leadership as described by Dr. Stephen Covey. Strong leaders recognize the contributions of the team before his or her efforts as a leader. In the book, Think Big, Act Small, one of the predominant findings is that the most successful privately held companies are led by very modest leaders.
As a company leader, you should evaluate your entire leadership team (including yourself) using these three principles:
• Has the leader earned the will of their team?
• Does the leader communicate clearly and wisely?
• Does the leader hold team members accountable for action?
Earn the Will of your Team
Tom Morris, a philosopher and mentor of mine, best described the approach to earn the will of your team through his book, True Success: The Art of Achievement and the 7 C’s of Success. The 7 Cs are:
1. A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
2. A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain the goal.
3. A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal.
4. A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.
5. An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we are doing.
6. A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
7. A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.
Here are the 7 Cs in detail.
A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
A vision provides a framework to recognize what is important and what is not. A vision will inspire you as well as others. However, before you can create your vision, you must first know yourself. What is really important to you? What are you passionate about? What motivates you?
Knowing who you really are is one of the most difficult things to do. It involves assessing your strengths and weaknesses as well as what inspires you. Are you willing to settle and just be in the background or do you want to make a difference and bring positive change?
With a clear vision and goal, it is easier to understand what is relevant in your life. When you want something dearly, you begin to recognize everything related to your desire. Without this desire/vision/goal, you will not easily know what you should pay attention to.
A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain the goal.
You are not going to be great if you don’t take risks to improve. In some cases, these risks may cause things to worsen temporarily, but these sacrifices will lead to bigger and better things. You must have confidence that you can overcome the temporary downfalls associated with risk taking.
Champions run ahead of what the current evidence shows will absolutely work. They have initial confidence that their plan will prevail. When things don’t go well, leaders have resilient confidence to not let failures keep them down. If business was about making decisions with a known outcome, very few innovations would ever occur.
A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal.
You cannot be all things to all people. The key to concentration is to avoid being distracted by things that are not critical to your success.
Give yourself time to think – you will make better decisions. Think through the possible unintended consequences of your actions and develop plans to counter them.
With your vision in place, determine the three most critical factors to achieve your vision. Re-prioritize your work day to spend the most time on these success factors. During my coaching sessions, I ask leaders to do this exercise every 90 days. It’s amazing how much companies accomplish when leaders and their team understand company priorities and focus their effort accordingly.
A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.
Consistency is about tying everything together. Consistency creates trust and increases a person’s ability to lead through influence rather than authority.
Inconsistency often leads to dysfunctional organizations because it creates ignorance, indifference and negative inertia. To illustrate this point, I’ve highlighted common feedback from employees during 360-degree assessments:
• Ignorance – “I don’t know what’s really important. Company priorities are always changing and we often have strategies of the month without follow through.”
• Indifference – “Team members are not held accountable for their work effort and many projects start, but don’t end.”
“At some point, you stop caring about the collective whole and just do what you have to do to keep your job.”
• Inertia – “It will be difficult to change because we have operated this way for such a long time. This IS the culture of our company.”
An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we are doing.
Business is about people working together for a common goal. If we get to know each other on an emotional level, we can do great things together. Most employees will say they have worked hardest for bosses who took time to understand them personally and show appreciation for their effort. Investing time into your employees will increase their loyalty and their receptiveness to constructive feedback.
A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
Leaders must have strong character inside and outside of the workplace. I know some folks prefer to have a different life outside of work, but this should not mean a different life with lower standards. The patience and discernment you practice at work should carry over to your personal life, especially with your family.
Leaders will encounter more stressful activities than most. Their capacity to handle stress has enabled them to earn their position as a leader. However, we all have “tipping points” where we take on more than we should handle. Without maintaining a good balance of mind, body and spirit, these tipping points will often lessen one’s ability to lead effectively. Pay attention to what your body and subconscious are telling you.
A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.
Life is finite and we only have one shot. There is no “do over.” Recognizing this simple truth will help you enjoy the gifts each day brings.
Cornerstone Business Advisors provides access to experts in business strategy, management, process and finance. The Cornerstone team includes former C-Level executives, successful entrepreneurs and advisors who offer unmatched experience in delivering advanced, custom-tailored, results-oriented solutions for business leaders. Cornerstone has worked with hundreds of companies that range from fast-growth start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. It developed the Performance Culture System™ to help clients implement best practices and drive high performance throughout their organization. For more information, visit www.launchgrowexit.com, call 910-681-1420, or email [email protected].
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